Audi has revealed its prototype Le Mans race car; power comes from Audi’s 3.7-litre TDI unit

Audi has revealed its new prototype Le Mans race car, dubbed R18.

Power comes courtesy of Audi’s 3.7-litre V6 TDI unit - a smaller than usual engine, thanks to changes prescribed for Le Mans in 2011.

See official pics of the Audi R18 Le Mans race car

Another new development is the six-speed transmission in the R18 which has been specifically modified for use with the smaller engine.

The prototype race car also features a closed shell for enhanced aerodynamics, a design last used by the team in 1999. According to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport: “In the future, aerodynamic efficiency will be even more important at Le Mans than it was in the past.”

Weight has been saved by the company too, thanks to its single-piece construction carbonfibre monocoque. Its front end also features headlights, which are the first to completely consist of LEDs.

Three R18s will be raced at the 2011 Le Mans race this summer, with its first appearance at Spa in April.

Join the debate


13 December 2010

While there is no doubt every inch of the design serves a purpose that is a butt ugly looking car. Especially taking into consideration how beautiful previous cars looked, this is awful. Of course when it wins such things wont matter.

13 December 2010

Certainly a striking looking car, although the mandatory vertical fin to prevent lift looks hideous. But then many racing cars are primarily designed to be functional and push the boundaries of rule-book.

But it's not the styling that concerns me, but the ongoing attempt by the ACO to strangle the performance of sports-prototypes. Although it would absurd to say they are slow, the rules over the last few years have seen sports-prototypes lap circuits about 15-20 secs slower than F1 cars, and having been to the Silverstone 1000km over the past few years they do look 'slow' and less spectacular, a far cry from the full-on Group C and 3.5 litre days. And with talk about the 2011 rules resulting in 'only' 450 - 500 Bhp, these £1.5m+ cars will barely be any faster than a GT class car.

13 December 2010

Looks awesome! Much more purposeful than previous efforts. I want to see Audi take it to Peugeot on pure pace in 2011.

13 December 2010

Very Batmobile in the blank carbon look. I agree about the vertical fin behind the cabin - doesnt look great, and I'm going to sound very anal for saying this but it's to move the centre of pressure backwards so it's as close as possible to the centre of gravity to reduce yaw instability in crosswinds...

13 December 2010

[quote Lanehogger]these £1.5m+ cars will barely be any faster than a GT class car.[/quote]

Actually, I have no problem with this. I'd rather see Le Mans be heavily production-based event, with lightly modified Ferrari 599 GTOs, Aston Martin DBSs, Porsche 918s, Audi R8 V10s, Lamborghini Murcielagos and so on doing battle with similarly-fast prototypes. The current prototype rules are a bit of a no-man's-land - faster than GTs but slower than F1 and serving no great purpose other than being very expensive.

13 December 2010

“In the future, aerodynamic efficiency will be even more important at Le Mans than it was in the past.”

A bad trend!

The vertical fin : it's like the rules on the wings in F1. How to make ugly cars...

Well... We know now how the Diesel work. Now ban it and come back to the petrol!

13 December 2010

I was a fan of the R8 and R10 (less so of the R15 although in plus form it was very effective), but this one doesn't really do it for me. It'll no doubt be much closer to the Peugeot in pace like its predecessors, but the 908 was not exactly a looker and I think it's a shame when you consider the Lola-Aston Martin looked pretty good.

The new regulations do seem to be a bit of an own goal really - they're making it more necessary to go back to closed-cockpit cars but without the performance benefits thanks to the restrictors. I'd be more inclined to draft the regulations so that performance is not as limited but expenditure and resources are - that would put the designers and engineers to the real test and bring about more of a level playing field. Chopping and changing engine regulations to my mind doesn't.

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